HOW OUTDOOR RECREATION CAN PLAY A MAJOR PART IN THE RECOVERY ‘What has the OIA done during the COVID crisis’
The OIA has been working tirelessly during the pandemic to build momentum and recognition for the importance of the outdoor recreation sector in the recovery process. Now, there seems to be a noticeable shift in attitude and acceptance and in recent months, a willingness from lots of areas to engage, listen, share and generally work with the outdoor sector. This ranges from NGB’s to NGO’s to Government, opposition or The Lords – it seems now is the time to really talk about emerging from Lockdown and ‘Get Active Outside’ – the OIA’s mission statement for the last ten years!
Recent OIA activity has included contributions to the new Sport England strategy, Uniting The Movement, with its focus on informal physical activity, on building environments that promote active travel, outdoor activities, informal exercise alongside traditional formal sport. The OIA has provided evidence to the DCMS select committee on the vital role sport and recreation will play in recovery and how much support is needed to rejuvenate the sector after a year of lockdown. Talking with the Sports & Tourism Minster Nigel Huddleston where he reconfirms his belief in “Our amazing Outdoors” and how cross department working can promote both physical activity and tourism to help recovery in the rural economies.
In representing the Outdoor Industries, CEO, Andrew Denton sits on many working groups and executive boards, speaking about and promoting the joy and importance of being active outside. All of which has the leveraging effect of bringing our outdoor agenda to the attention of a far larger audience. Take UK Active for example, where Andrew’s voice for the outdoors has helped build an appreciation of how many people love being outside, and influenced a little their significant lobbying voice to government. Or the work with the Sport & Recreation Alliance who also have a powerful lobby voice for the sector, and where the OIA has worked constantly hand in hand to promote the benefits of the Recreation Economy.
Working with Ordnance Survey and the Get Outside campaign has been a constant theme for the OIA before, during and after lockdowns, and it has been great to see the number of visitors and followers constantly rising.
Recently we’ve supported the UK Outdoors team who represent Outdoor Education in the UK, where OIA board member Equip has sponsored some marketing support to help raise awareness of the desperate state of this sector. And as part of our support for outdoor residential centres (petition to support them HERE), Andrew has also met with Tim Farron MP, previous Lib Dem leader and spoken with the (ex) Deputy Labour leader on this matter as well as Government. Suddenly it seems as if government, organisations, companies, populations are waking up to the OIA opinion that a life lived active and outdoors, is a better life for us all, our community and our planet.
Recently, Andrew gave Evidence to The Lords (available HERE) on Parliamentary TV where a panel of eight peers questioned him and several others about how Outdoor recreation could play a vital part in the COVID recovery plan.
Whilst all these lobbying opportunities, these nudges and campaigns have played a tiny part over the many years OIA has been speaking up for the outdoor sector, it feels now, as we start to see the ‘beginning of the end’ as we emerge blinking from Lockdown, perhaps now is truly the time people finally get the message, that the Outdoors has so much to offer, our sector is a ready- made solution for so many of the challenges that a post COVID world will bring. We can only do this work with the generous support of our members and now is truly the time to support and promote the Outdoor Industries, to help us create a healthier nation and encourage Britain to Get Active Outside!
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